October 26, 2011

Anthropology & Intellectual Reconstruction

Over at the "Democracy in America" blog at The Economist, M.S. has a new post that replies to Florida Governor Rick Scott's recent "we don't need no anthropologists" statement.  The author provides a rehash of the whole debacle, and then quotes Arizona State University president Michael Crow's response to the situation:
[R]esolving the complex challenges that confront our nation and the world requires more than expertise in science and technology. We must also educate individuals capable of meaningful civic participation, creative expression, and communicating insights across borders. The potential for graduates in any field to achieve professional success and to contribute significantly to our economy depends on an education that entails more than calculus.
Curricula expressly tailored in response to the demands of the workforce must be balanced with opportunities for students to develop their capacity for critical thinking, analytical reasoning, creativity, and leadership—all of which we learn from the full spectrum of disciplines associated with a liberal arts education. Taken together with the rigorous training provided in the STEM fields, the opportunities for exploration and learning that Gov. Scott is intent on marginalizing are those that have defined our national approach to higher education.
M.S. argues that Crow's statement is "a solid response," but that something more is needed: "What it lacks are rhetorical oomph and concrete examples."  So what can provide that extra OOMPH and rhetorical power?  Actual examples of anthropologists putting their training and knowledge to work:
Some of the best analysis of the 2007-2008 financial crisis, and of the ongoing follies on Wall Street these days, has been produced by the Financial Times' Gillian Tett. Ms Tett began warning that collateralised debt obligations and credit-default swaps were likely to lead to a major financial implosion in 2005 or so. The people who devise such complex derivatives are generally trained in physics or math. Ms Tett has a PhD in anthropology.
Read the rest on Savage Minds, here.

No comments: